If 2010 was the year PR debated and experimented with social media, 2011 needs to be the year in which it stakes an active claim.
A clear tone
Some clients are still nervous about social media. As Joanna Dring, PR manager at Wells & Young's Brewery, points out, it is essential the consumer knows the tone of voice of the brand is coming from someone very close to that brand: 'When it comes to interacting with consumers it is really important the brand and PR manager knows what's being said.'
As expert communicators, PR professionals really have the edge here. Dring cites the Bombardier ale brand, which places an emphasis on English traditions as part of its brand values, as an example of the importance of getting the tone right: 'We will talk about English events, the World Cup, the royal engagement, St George's Day. We recently did a tie-up with Viz Top Tips that added more depth.'
Martin Ballantine at Piracy Corporation believes advertising and digital PR agencies are becoming increasingly aware of word of mouth: 'Ad and digital agencies are turning word of mouth into something that has only existed in a digital age. But word of mouth has always come from PR professionals and journalists getting people to talk.'
Many of the skills required to run a successful social media campaign are a natural extension of the skills needed to run a traditional PR campaign.
'Social media are a huge opportunity for PR,' concludes GolinHarris' Parker. But it is up to the industry to firmly grasp that opportunity.